Stress and Your Fertility

photo courtesy of drshawnadarou.com

photo courtesy of drshawnadarou.com

As a society, Americans are used to spreading themselves too thin.  In June 2012, The New York Daily News reported on a study showing that stress levels in America had risen 30% over the previous 30 years!  Stress has unfortunately become ingrained into our daily lives.  However, if you are trying to become pregnant, it is definitely time to step back and examine your stress levels.

Stress can prevent you from conceiving in a variety of ways:

  • When you are under extreme stress, your body produces adrenalin.  Adrenaline inhibits your body from using progesterone, and causes your pituitary gland to release prolactin, both of which inhibit fertility.
  • Stress increases your body’s levels of cortisol, which contributes to suppressing ovulation, lowering sperm count, and decreasing libido.
  • Stress impacts your hypothalamus, which is the part of your brain that regulates all of your hormones.  This gland is responsible for signaling your body to release an egg.  A great deal of stress can actually cause you to ovulate later than you normally would, or sometimes to not ovulate at all.

There are ways in which you can work to reduce stress in your life when you are trying to conceive.  One is to do a lot of self-reflection.  Really examine what aspects of life are bringing you stress and what you can do about them.  If total elimination of stressors is not an option, you need to take some time to think about how you can change your response to them.  If you are struggling with this process, a licensed mental health professional can help.  Another option is to develop some new habits that are known to help reduce stress in the human body.  For example, you could begin yoga classes, start taking some quiet time for yourself each day to do some reading, or learn more about the practice of meditation.

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